The Blast Pro Series Madrid Tournament Preview

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The Blast Pro Series returns with its Madrid iteration. After a very successful tournament in Miami, RFRSH entertainment will be moving to Spain for its next iteration. As usual, the Blast Pro Series Madrid will feature six teams competing for a prize pool of $250,000. The tournament will take place on two days ( 10th May and 11th May) and will feature a series of Best of One matches for the Group stage. The top two teams at the end of the Group stage will be a part of the Grand finals. They will play a Best of Three series to determine the eventual winner.

The Blast Pro Series has come under a lot of criticism for the way it aims to take control of the CS: GO scene. Attempts have been made in the past. RFRSH Entertainment seems to have been very successful with their attempts to create an exclusive tournament circuit with the top teams.

The six teams participating in the Blast Pro Series Madrid are:

  • Astralis
  • Cloud9
  • Natus Vincere
  • Ninjas in Pyjamas
  • ENCE
  • Winner of Iberian Play-in

In this article, we take a look at four teams from this tournament. Astralis is the favourite to win the tournament. However, the format for the event definitely leaves room for others to cause upsets and appear in the Grand finals. Let’s take a look at each team, their strengths and their recent results.

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Astralis

Astralis lifting trophy
Astralis remains the best team in the world. However, will they able to keep up with their dominance over others?


The Danish team is by far the best team in the world. They were not a part of IEM Sydney and that is considered to be one of the reasons for Team Liquid’s victory at the tournament. Astralis’ dominance comes to due to their rigid practice regimen. The team is known to evaluate their opponents’ playstyle. The Danish team is constantly practising trying to counter-strat their opponents. This is one of the reasons why Astralis continues to remain at the very top of CS: GO rankings. Their win at ESL One Katowice was no fluke and it was enriching to see Astralis win against ENCE in the manner that they did.

The team has been together for a very long time. They have excellent skill players such as Device, Dupreeh and Xyp9x. Each player presents a unique mix of talents and playstyle. While Device is known for the AWP, Dupreeh has proven himself to be an effective entry fragger. Of late, he has slowly moved to a more supportive playstyle as Astralis have changed their gameplay as a whole.

Coming into the Blast Pro Series Madrid, it will be upon Astralis to defend their title as the best team. They did not participate in IEM Sydney and that definitely deducts some points for the Danish team. If they have to choose and pick which tournaments to attend, they need to ensure top tier finishes in the ones that they do.

Cloud9

Valvens in Cloud9
Valens recently joined Cloud9 as their coach.

The North American squad, which was once the winner of a CS: GO major has fizzled in comparison to its previous performances. They have received a direct invite to the tournament and will be looking forward to making an impact in this tournament. The Blast Pro Series Madrid features Best of One matches in the Group stage. It would be the perfect opportunity for Cloud9 to cause upsets and possibly improve their ranking amongst the other teams.

On paper, Cloud9 is the weakest invited team at the event. They should not be able to win matches against any of the opponents ( except the local team which will qualify via the play-in). The Cloud9 roster recently added Vice ( on Trial) and CajunB in April. The team has had almost a month together practising their moves. However, they also recently underwent another change to their roster. They added Valens as their coach, replacing Rambo. With a new coach, it brings about new playstyle and new tactics. It is bound to take time for Cloud9 to adjust to the new playstyle by Valens and possibly figure out their own role on the team. We don’t think they will have a deep run in the tournament and should not be able to reach the Grand finals.

Natus Vincere

The Natus Vincere team is one of the most significant rosters in Counter-Strike Global Offensive. Despite having two of the best players in the world, Na’Vi is still not able to rise to the very top. It is rare to see Na’Vi win a big event and the last time that Na’Vi won a premier event is the Starladder & I-Series Season 7.

Natus Vincere’s playstyle emphasises on playing to their strengths. We have seen them win force-buys simply due to their superior aim and skill. They can play in multiple roles including AWP on the S1mple or Electronic with the rifle. Multiple players in the team can position themselves according to the opponents. The weakest link on the team in terms of skill is Zeus, but what he lacks in skill he makes up with the strategy and in-game leading.

Natus Vincere is missing out on key opportunities to make their performance raise themselves to the very top. Na’Vi is still the third-ranked team in the world and they are a team that can possibly win Blast Pro Series Madrid. They will still have to face off against Astralis, mostly in the Grand finals. A Grand final between Na’Vi and Astralis would be extremely fitting for this tournament.

Ninjas in Pyjamas

NIP ( Get_right, Pita and Lekro)
NIP recently played an excruciatingly long series against Fnatic at IEM Sydney quarterfinals. Image Credit: HLTV

The Ninjas in Pyjamas team recently took part in IEM Sydney 2019. They reached the playoffs where they had a 100 round long quarterfinal match against Fnatic. The team’s performance saw multiple players rise up to the occasion. While F0rest and Get_Right were crucial when it comes to their performance, the rest of the squad also rises up to the occasion.

This roster has been together for some time and they have developed a kind of synergy on the team. The team’s performance is definitely improving, however, it is difficult to place them in official rankings right now. On HLTV, their ranking places them at the 9th position, far behind the other strong teams in this tournament. Astralis, Na’Vi and ENCE are all within the Top five rankings on HLTV.

The Ninjas in Pyjamas should not be able to reach the Grand finals, especially against the quality of opposition at the tournament. However, they are definitely a team that can cause multiple upsets and spoil the chances of others to reach the finals. We have seen Astralis find difficulty playing against the Ninjas in the past. We don’t know whether NIP can still manage to pull off some strong results in this tournament.


ENCE

ENCE. Image Credit: ESL
ENCE has fallen off their peak performance since IEM Katowice 2019 Major. Image Credit: ESL

The Finnish squad surprised everyone with their performance at the IEM Katowice 2019 Major. They reached the Grand finals after defeating several possible candidates. However, they were unable to move past Astralis, which still remains the best team in the world.


Since the Major, ENCE has not had the best performance to date. They did secure a decent 3rd place at the Blast Pro Series Sao Paolo. However, that result was followed by a Group stage exit at Starladder & I-Series Season 7. The team seems to be struggling when it comes to their firepower and aim. They are unable to pull off the kind of plays that got them to the Grand finals at the Major.

ENCE will need to prove a strong showing at this tournament to redeem themselves. The team has not performed well since February and the poor results at Starladder definitely do not help their case. For the Finnish team, if they want to retain their ranking as the 5th best team in the world, a good Top 3 finish at this tournament is necessary.

Final Thoughts

This is the penultimate Blast Pro Series tournament announced. The next event for RFRSH after Madrid will be Los Angeles.

The Blast Pro Series Madrid will not feature Team Liquid. As such we will see another team in the Grand finals against Astralis. It will be important for the Grand Finalists to put on a good show. Astralis does not look as dominant as before and hence it is an opportunity for the likes of Na’Vi or NIP to exert their strengths. However, if Astralis does win this tournament with a considerable margin, it will further enhance their status as the world best team. The Blast Pro Series Madrid starts on the 10th of May 2019 and it will be streamed live on Twitch.


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